Here is a chilling quote I’ve come across today in an announcement from a marketing strategy firm. It’s a press release dated 28 April 2009 and you can find it here.
It reveals what the huge food and drink industry REALLY thinks about breastfeeding: as a PROBLEM to be surmounted, got round and generally dealt with.
Don’t you love the characterisation of breastfeeding as “more traditional”? The concept of it being more appropriate nutritionally is carefully sidestepped. “Traditional” makes it sound old-fashioned and quaint, like using wattle-and-daub instead of modern building materials.
This attitude also lies behind the growth in “healthy” milk drinks for toddlers.
I often warn my antenatal clients that in terms of marketing they are like the antelope herd crossing the prairie no longer hunted just by lions but by yobs in Range Rovers with machine guns. Pregnant women and their partners are marketing gold-dust and must be extremely vigilant – all their emotions, vulnerability, lack of knowledge and anxiety will be exploited by marketers to the full. We should all remember this when a formula company is allowed to sponsor a Royal College of Midwives training event, for example: such sponsorship seems harmless but helps to create the feeling of formula milk being normal.
Here is the quote which made my blood run cold:
Mothers are returning to a more traditional parenting technique of breastfeeding their children. This presents problems for the baby drinks industry, with the growth of formulas stunted as a consequence. Manufacturers must find ways of creating appeal without positioning drinks as a direct alternative, which creates ill-feeling among mothers.
Marketers are becoming more aware of the need to target parents as early as possible. Brand relationships and trust bonds can be formed during pregnancy when the child is not yet even born. This lifestage targeting will becoming increasingly important going forwards.
Charming, isn’t it?